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Making the city more mom-friendly

  • Published at 12:02 am September 9th, 2019
Minara, a 19-year-old Rohingya mother of three children, is struggling to provide nourishment to her infant child since she herself has been suffering from malnutrition. Her struggle reflect the difficulties that overburdened mothers face ar different refugee camps in Cox's Bazar
Photo: Zayed Shitol

Shouldn’t new mothers be made to feel welcome in Dhaka?

When I got married three years ago, my life was different. However, after embracing parenthood, we, my wife to be particular, have been experiencing the city we live in through a new lens. 

Despite so many modern amenities offered by the capital, this city cannot be considered as a mom-friendly place if it is seen through the perspective of a new mother. For instance -- most of the shopping malls are not equipped with facilities that are very essential for a new mom. 

Well, have we ever put some good thoughts into this matter -- how can we make this city more “mom-friendly”? Here are some plausible options:

First and foremost, all the shopping malls should be facilitated with breast-feeding and baby-changing rooms.

It is often seen that parents find themselves in a fix while visiting many shopping centres if their baby pees or poops.

If there is no baby-changing room in the shopping mall and the parents cannot change the baby’s diaper, then the baby may form rashes, which may result in other health complications. 

So, it is very important that malls offer all amenities to parents that will help them to pass quality time at the shopping centre without feeling any mental strain. 

The same arrangement should be made in the public toilets -- though very few in numbers -- throughout the city as well.

The condition of our public toilets is terrible and the way these are maintained is slipshod. Interiors of most of public toilets in the capital are very grimy and there are not enough public toilets in the city to begind with. 

More public toilets facilitated with baby-changing rooms should be introduced with a view to easing the pain of new mothers. 

Next, as far as the opportunity of breast-feeding is concerned, our city may seem like an uninviting place to a new mother as there are not enough dedicated breast-feeding spaces.

Often it is seen that the infant needs to be breastfed but the mother cannot do so because of lack of such spaces or conducive atmosphere. 

That’s why many new mothers feel discouraged to breastfeed their infants in public places.

This is indeed a serious thing to consider since breastfeeding a child at the right time is important and whether the infants are breastfed or not can have significant impacts on the trajectory of the children’s lives. 

To mitigate this problem, dedicated breast-feeding spots should be allocated at the bus stands and other public places so that new mothers feel welcoming whenever they feel the necessity to breast-feed their babies. 

In addition, when it comes to taking care of the infant, it gets tough for many working mothers to find a convenient and reliable day-care centre.

Owing to such unavailability, many new mothers have to quit their jobs and sacrifice their dream to become self-dependent which cannot be the norm in this post-modern age when we are talking about and striving hard to figure out ways to empower women in a meaningful way. 

An often overlooked solution in this regard is keeping provision of child-care centres at the mother’s workplace. Such facility would be advantageous to both the mothers and the employer. 

A study titled “Vouching for child care assistance with two quasi-experimental studies,” published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, revealed that the performance of the employees availing the facility of workplace-based child-care centers was higher than employees using a center located at a distant place. 

In the meantime, it is imperative that government or city corporation authorities take proper steps to establish more day-care centres throughout the city.

Much has been said and written about how to make Dhaka more eco-friendly, but I think it’s high time that we addressed the issue of developing a more mom-friendly city as well. 

Md Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a journalist.